Working professional MBA programs can be challenging when it comes to the competing priorities of work, school, and your personal life. Many wouldn’t think of adding to that mix, perhaps the ultimate challenge: caring for a new baby. Nevertheless, McCombs Working Professional MBA students have shown that a growing family can make it though the program with the right planning, prioritizing, and support network.
“There’s never a ‘right’ time to have a baby,” says Denise Xue, Texas Evening MBA Class of 2017, a financial analyst at Intel who gave birth to her son Daniel in April of 2016, during her fourth semester in the program.
“Having a baby while getting an MBA is certainly not easy, but I never regret one bit. You will be extremely busy, and feel challenged both physically and emotionally, but at the same time you will also feel proud of yourself for the things that you accomplished.”
Here is some advice from Denise and other recent parents for those contemplating parenthood in combination with their Texas MBA:
Get Everyone on Board
It probably goes without saying that when one parent of a new child is dealing with the responsibilities of a job and an MBA, the other will take on a greater burden of the parenting for a while. Jacob Shurbet, Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth Class of 2018, and his wife, Jennifer, found out they would have twin girls in September 2016, just one month after Jacob started the program. He was working as a consultant at PwC.
“It is key to involve your significant other in this decision and ensure they are 100% dedicated to making this work,” Jacob says. “I can’t stress enough the importance of working together and finding a schedule that meets everyone’s needs.” Having his wife on board early made things easier for Jacob once their babies Harper and Berkley arrived on September 20, 2017.
A student’s spouse, parents, co-workers and extended family are among the many resources these new parents tap into to help them. Their McCombs community is another resource. Deb Carpenter, Texas MBA at Houston Class of 2018, a marketing and communications manager with Kuraray, had her son Charles on July 24, 2017. In addition to the support of her husband, Lee, who cares for Charles on the weekends when Deb is in class, she says, “Charles also had love from all around the program, from my class baby shower, to guys holding my backpack, to the congratulatory emails from professors when he finally arrived.” All of the parents advise clear communication with your study group and professors, and have found them all to be supportive as they go through this major life event.
Be Honest About Priorities
All Working Professional MBAs learn quickly how to prioritize what matters, and for new parents, this becomes even more critical. You can’t do everything.
Jacob says, “You will have to stay up late, sacrifice weekends, and possibly miss some of the milestones of the kids. But you have to accept these things before or during the program, or it will be very difficult to balance everything.” And Deb pointed out that an MBA is not inherently harder when you’re expecting: “Teachers didn’t give me extra assignments just because I was pregnant.”
Integrate Instead of Separate
Sometimes the best way to manage competing priorities is to combine them. Jacob and Jennifer have brought their twins to events with their fellow students, which helped everyone in their class gain a sense of perspective about what matters.
“It is doable,” Jacob says. “Just remind yourself that those two years will fly by and you will look back and be so glad you did everything you could to make it work. Make sure you bring your spouse and kids around your classmates. Involve them in the extracurricular activities. This helps you and allows your family to be a part of the most rewarding things you will do in your life.” Creative multitasking can also work. Denise held her young baby in a carrier while he was falling asleep in order to free her hands to do homework.
Embrace the Challenge
Everyone who pursues an MBA has a degree of competitiveness, so new parents use that to their advantage.
As Deb says, “Managing a full schedule is something that brings out the best in me. Professor Almazan, our corporate finance teacher, said to me, ‘You are always more capable then you think you are.’ And that really is what encompasses a professional MBA program, as a young parent or not.”
Texas MBA staff, students, alumni, and professors understand the challenges of an MBA are different for everyone. If you have any questions about joining our class of 2020 as a working professional, please reach out to us.
This content came from MBA Working Professional & Executive Programs admissions officers.